What a pathetic displayed of football by the national squad in the first leg of the world cup qualifier just now. It was a wrong choice of tactical, wrong choice of players lined up in the first half of the game. Both central defenders played like a school boys although Qiu Li (age 30 with bulging tummy) and Alexsandar Duric (age 40) are two ‘old school’ forward, who could run as slow as donkey. And midfield…there were no midfield at all, a big loopholes in the middle of the field. Amar, Ismail Faruqi and captain Shafiq did not have the edge over Shahril, Mustafiq, Shia Jiayi and the rest of the Singaporean. Ismail were all over the pitch with no clear vision on how to score goal (or at least to assist in scoring goal). But then I guess, in overall, two things need to be considered carefully in the second leg, leadership and mindset change.
Three earlier matches with the EPL top four did not earn the boys the needed confidence to overcome the fear of playing in a full capacity crowd at Jalan Besar Stadium…(max 6K?). Deyy, pegang bola control game daa…
Leadership is another issue. The back four need leader. They need an experience leader to tell them when to push forward and when to calm down in a situation. The defenders are in dire strait of getting the service of the likes of Aidil or Norhafiz Zamani.
Let’s focus on the next game coming 28th July without the service of Shafiq and Aidil. No doubt Raja will push his boys in the first 20 minutes to look for the two deficit goals. Kunanlan & Amirul should start in the wing where they would expect lots of thru balls from the backline. Both of them should push forward every time they have the ball on their feet. Safee will be their target man. In the midfield, we should have the service of both Amar Rohidan and Shakir as defensive midfielder to provide extra support to the backline. Baddrol Bakhtiar and Amirul Hadi should at all time swap places in the midfield to support Safee. To provide extra power in counter attack, probably Wan Zack from Harimau Muda should be given a chance to show what he is made of.
The backline should have the service of Subramaniam in the right half for the first 30 minutes to neutralize Qiu Li and Duric. Mahalli can have his place back to support Hadi in the wings on the second half. Fadhli Shas is a good player but lack of leadership quality. He needs Norhafiz to play alongside him. Asrarudin Putra is a confirm player in left back.
Sharbinee is a no go and to be replaced by Apek or Farizal simply because both the latter are better in having effectively communication with the central defenders.
So Datuk Raja must go for 4-5-1 to have supremacy in midfield until Harimau Malaya ease the deficit and go back to the usual 4-4-2 (or vice versa have the bus ready in front of the goal post) after that. That’s my 2 cents.
P/s – Bring back the glory of the 70s (Harimau Malaya was ranked in the top 50s in 1978).